Seattle QB Russell Wilson has been sacked an NFL-high 31 times this season and will likely be facing some heat Sunday in Dallas, at times maybe from controversial defensive end Greg Hardy.
One constant for the Seahawks in an up-and-down season has been, well, quarterback Russell Wilson being up and then, all too often going down.
Wilson has been sacked 31 times now, which is five more than any other team in the NFL (Kansas City and Cleveland each have 26).
While sacks are sometimes viewed as solely a statement on the offensive line, everything factors in — how fast Wilson gets rid of the ball, how quickly receivers get open, and if a defensive scheme simply beats the offensive play call.
The one big black mark in the 20-3 win at San Francisco is that Wilson was again sacked five times — three in the second half when Seattle threw just 10 passes.
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“It’s getting better,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said this week of the line play and protection. “It’s going in the right direction. The first half, as far as sacks, I think that’s something that we’re really focusing on, that we’re concentrating on as much as we can. There’s things that we can do to help that out, obviously it’s protection, based with the offensive line, but also timing on the throws, all the things that go into it. It’s definitely a focus of ours and that’s one focus area we feel like we can really work on and improve that. I think they’re getting better, I think their communication’s better. There’s going to be times you’re going to have man to man that you get beat, and you’ll take those, but you want to make sure that it’s not scheme, not communication and those type of errors.”
As he has at other times this season, Wilson took some of the blame for the high sack totals when he met the media this week.
“I can say that some of those are on me,” he said, noting that he often tries to run around and keep a play even when everything has broken down, which often results in big plays for the offense. “Sometimes you’re just trying to make a play. Sometimes you get a zero yard gain, you get back to the line of scrimmage, that’s considered a sack, we’ve had a few of those for sure. I think we could all be better, I think it’s definitely on me to make sure that we really cooperate and work together and are in sync at all times, and get the ball out and do everything that I can to eliminate some of those.
“At the same time, you don’t want to eliminate some of the explosive plays that we make too from it. It’s a happy medium. I think that the key is being smart in certain situations. Sometimes, and this may sound crazy, but sometimes a sack’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s better than giving the ball away. You can live on to the next down and some of those sacks, you get back to the line of scrimmage. You’re trying to make a play and you get back to the line of scrimmage and now it’s second and seven or third and seven or whatever, so you just have to live with it.”
Wilson figures to feel some heat again Sunday at Dallas. While the Cowboys have just 13 on the season, they have gotten three in two weeks from Greg Hardy since he returned from the suspended list.
Hardy has been enmeshed in controversy all week over his sideline behavior in the loss at New York. But from a strictly football standpoint, he looms as one of Seattle’s biggest challenges Sunday.
Hardy is listed as the team’s right defensive end (you can see him getting a sack from that spot here two weeks ago against Tom Brady which would put him opposite Seattle left tackle Russell Okung.
Okung, though, has been dealing with a ankle injury this week that had him limited in practice Thursday and out on Friday and listed as questionable for the game (officially meaning a 50-50 chance of playing). Alvin Bailey typically serves as his backup and did for the two plays Okung missed against the 49ers (they were actually the last two of the third quarter and Marshawn Lynch ran behind the left side on each, picking up gains of nine and 13 yards). Bailey also rotated throughout with Garry Gilliam at right tackle.
Okung’s health and how Seattle deals with Hardy will be something to keep a real eye on Sunday.
“He’s a fantastic player,” said offensive line coach Tom Cable of Hardy. “There’s no hiding that fact. They have a really good front seven. I liken them to the way St. Louis plays the game — physical, real athletic up front. Get after you in one-on-one rush.”